As I sit here with my coffee at 7 AM on a Monday, after a long intense weekend, I really don’t know where to begin with any of it.  It was like a vivid dream, and I’m kind of unsure of whether or not any of it really happened…


I’ve been somewhat “stranded” in South Carolina for the last few months, since the Folk U bus decided to poop its pants and pout, refusing to take us any further until German rebuilds the engine.  And I say “stranded” only because, born and raised in the mid-west, being marooned in the sunny warm south for the winter isn’t exactly torture.  We’ve been in situations like this before, where we’ve had to come up with a big chunk of money before we can continue whatever journey we’re on.  Our solution for this particular challenge: German has been working with a day labor place (work that day, get paid that day), and I’ve been slingin’ tunes around the music scene.20190312_210710


I had discovered Awendaw Green while doing the usual research of the area, and was able to score a spot playing in the Barn Jams.  Awendaw Green is a beautiful and artistic community settled near the edge of Francis Marion National Forest – their “resident musician” is the incredible Danielle Howle.  When I confirmed the Barn Jams gig, Danielle had invited me to an “originals only” open mic she runs in Charleston on Tuesday nights called “Holy City Confessionals“.

The moment I met this woman I fell in Love.  Her warm welcome, the sheer energy of her, the way she seemed to have down-to-earth no-bullshit approach Love and kindness, her open-hearted invitation to share my songs, the feisty fierce creature she was, and the high level of awesome in her music…it’s easy to love that kind of an Individual.  As I learned a bit more about her music and history, I felt as though we must have similar Muses speaking to us – our musics have a common odor, a common stink of self-awareness, we both sing stories of the Journey, of self-evolution and finding that inner contentment.

I watched her on stage, noticing a similar fierceness in the delivery as my own, and felt as though I was looking at myself, 15 years from now.

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Danielle Howle

It was Danielle who had invited me to the Swamp Sessions.  It’s a 3-day songwriting retreat, at a solar-powered swamp house, who-the-hell-knows-where, deep in the Francis Marion National Forest.  Essentially the idea is to retreat to a natural setting and spend some time working on music, along with other songwriters and creative people.  After some contemplation on logistics and whether or not I should go, I decided to take advantage.

I hitched a ride there on Friday morning with a laid-back dude named Fleming Moore.  I met Fleming at the open mic, he had been hooking me up with some gig opportunities through his own awesome “Bummerville” musical endeavor.  A super-chill, Awakened individual in his mid-late 50s, Fleming’s music makes you feel like you’re chillin’ on a back porch, sippin’ tea and sharing stories, jamming out on old guitars with dirty strings.

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Me and Fleming ❤

We listened to good music and swapped life stories as we drove along in a caravan of creatives, Danielle leading the way deep into the forest.  The moment we were off the main roads I lost reception on my phone, a thing I had a feeling would happen.  After a few long and bumpy dirt roads, we came upon the solar-powered swamp house that was to be our home for the next 3 days.  I was told we were alone for at least a hundred acres in any direction.

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The Swamp House

I was in a foreign place in the middle of nowhere with people I barely knew.  Thankfully the people around were good, kind people, whose welcome felt like a warm invitation for me to let go and let life happen.  I won’t lie though: it took me damn-near 24 hours to adjust to not having phone service.

Friday was about getting settled into the new environment.  The house was beautifully eclectic, filled with instruments and trinkets and so many remnants of those who had come and gone over the years.  I was given a bed in a cozy wooden room, and there was a homemade meal being prepared as people arrived and settled in.  Before dinner, we gathered as a group for a short welcome and introductions, along with discussion about how the weekend would go.

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Swamp House main room
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A gift from Danielle: my Swamp Sessions notebook and a nighttime navigational tool.

Danielle had lovingly set up a nature walk for us to go on, in our own time.  It was around a half mile long, and had 8 stations – each of which had spot to sit and reflect and do a bit of writing.  After the gathering and while the meal was being cooked, I decided the nature trail would be a good way to start.  The love and care she brought to setting up the walk for us was done with great Intention, and it was breath-making to see the swamp through her eyes.  We had been given a small packet of guidance to inspire us along the way:

Excerpt from station 3, “The Realm of Trees”

“Enter the circle of trees and have a seat.  You are now going into the forest without a road, but a path.  You may still hear people in the distance playing music, laughing, and being happy.  You are not alone, and yet you are!!  Let the circle of trees become your home for the next 5-10 minutes.  Write now what trees and this forest mean to you.  Do not edit yourself or try to form rhymes or anything like that!  Let it flow kinda how trees do in the wind, with no self-judgement.  Just enjoy the moment and fact that you are a viable, creative force and that there is no right or wrong way to go about the writing process.  It’s all about your willingness to be present in the moment and enjoy your surroundings.  If there is anything you would like to say regarding trees or forests, now is the time to write that down.”

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Danielle had a small crew with her, to assist in the workshops and in overall hospitality and comfort of the Artists: a few folks to assist with recording, someone to stay on top of meals and home up-keep, someone to guide us in yoga, a kayaking/land guide…I felt well taken care of.  After a kick-ass spaghetti dinner and a few lengthy jams around the fire, I poured myself into bed and drifted off to the sounds of people laughing and making music.

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my lil nook in the swamp house

As with much in the Universe, I too go through forms of evolution.  I use my songwriting as tool for that self-evolutionary process.  The thing is though: as I evolve, so does my songwriting.  As it turns out, I happen to be at one of those evolutionary points in my life, and I can feel that shift in my songwriting happening – I no longer have the previous outlook, yet I’m unsure of what the new outlook is.

The retreat provides the freedom to focus on what you feel you want to focus on; whether you’ve got something you’ve been working on and want some input, or a song you’ve finished and just want to polish up, or perhaps write something from scratch, or maybe even just be around creative people in a creative environment for the weekend.

I had a mellow finger-picky song that was at “almost done” status.  It’s a song meant to help me stop and be still, and to wish for an overall peaceful Journey – the goal being to keep it mellow and let the vocals and guitar flow gently, like the voice of a meditation guide.  I had been having trouble fleshing out a structure for it though, didn’t know if maybe another verse was needed, wondering if I’m overthinking it.  Aside from that song, I have this other song that I feel has the potential to be quite powerful.  In my own personal life Story at the moment, an absurd fear of my own power and beauty seems to be plaguing me; this song marvels at that absurdity, and questions why.  I happened to have these “works in progress”, and thought that perhaps my presence at the retreat during a time of change in my songwriting was meant to be.

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A fine hammock indeed

Because I’ve been struggling with this weird scared-of-my-own-prowess thing, I felt like I really needed that second song to come out pronto.  Early on Saturday, after a lengthy cup of coffee and morning ritual with a very cool dude called Z, I grabbed my guitar and sat by the water with the intention of working on it and getting most of it done, so it would just need some polishing on Sunday and could potentially get recorded.  I jammed on it a bit, I did get a few more lines down, but stopped when it started to feel forced.  I tinkered on other things for a while, then stepped away from it.

There wasn’t exactly what you would call a “schedule” for this retreat, or any meticulously structured “workshops”.  It was more like stations and resources were set up to be ready and available to us, and we were free to utilize them throughout the weekend as we saw fit.  At any given time, I could choose between:

  • songwriting nature walk workshop
  • beat-making
  • recording
  • jamming around the fire
  • assisting other songwriters with their tunes
  • helping out with food or clean-up
  • or simply being alone with my thoughts and my music

Amidst the shuffling about of all the stuff and things, Danielle made it a point to make herself available to anyone who desired her assistance or input throughout the weekend.  She took great care in making herself available to each of the dozen-or-so songwriters as individuals, giving one-on-one time, sometimes even at the expense of her own sleep and self-care.

After that short songwriting session with myself, I spent the rest of Saturday immersing myself in all the goodies the retreat had to offer.  Throughout each endeavor – whether I was jamming with someone by the fire, hanging out in the kitchen, recording some guitar on someone’s song, helping someone out with song structure, or teaming up with Danielle to help a friend find the music for her words – I came to know some truly wonderful individuals, and by the end of the night I was a part of this small little family community in the middle of the woods. 20190323_182921


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Saturday night I was plagued with nightmares, which made for a restless sleep.  I awoke at sunrise and felt like I needed to have my coffee alone that morning.  I took my notebook, coffee, and other morning essentials to a spot over by the edge of the creek to be Alone.  It was the spot where we had done yoga the day before, and it also served as “station 1” on Danielle’s nature walk.  An old wooden chair was settled under a berry tree that she called “the year-round Christmas tree”, and I sat there and gradually shook off the nightmare’s effects on me.

About halfway through my coffee, I went and grabbed my guitar, deciding to try and work on that song.  This was it, it was Sunday, and I’d be going home before the day’s end.  Now was the time to finish that song.

I jammed on it a little bit, but not much.  As I listened to the early morning songs of dozens of invisible birds, I took my time communing with the trees and the swampy waters.  Something told me that song wasn’t right for the moment, and I began tinkering on the finger-picky one.  The one that requires open stillness, and a meditative voice.


As I sat with no expectations, crying every so often over the struggle to accept that which is already perfect, I listened to the bird songs.  I listened to the whispy whispers of the trees in the breeze.  I listened to the humming of the Earth, felt Her endless movement beneath my toes.  The word “Universe” literally means “one song” – and I Listened, to the sound of the One Song.  My song revealed itself within, as a part of the One Song, as with all songs.  All of a sudden I no longer struggled with the structure, because it had revealed itself to me in full.  A 3rd verse even revealed itself to me, and the song as whole came together beautifully.  As I finished the song, the swamp told me “Yes!  That’s it!  Well done!” and I cried tears of joy and gratitude.

There I was, thinking I’d be working on a certain song that’s gonna teach me it’s ok to be beautiful…and it turns out the swamp wanted me to be still, to finish another song about being Here and Now in stillness.  It was in that Here-and-Now, listening to my *new song within the One Song, that I felt safe to be beautiful.  The swamp told me “The other song will come in its own time, but for this moment Now…be Here, and Now, and let yourself be a beautiful part of the One Song.20190324_121548.jpg


Although I don’t typically record songs without fully nurturing them first, I went ahead and had it recorded.  It was a little rough – shaky fingertips, somewhat hesitant vocals that sound as though they may cry at any moment – but I got it down and I’m glad.  I moved on from there to continue with the usual goings on of swamp sessions; playing around on songs of others, picking things up or putting them away, laying in the hammock and daydreaming.

I had found a guest book on the kitchen table, containing entries from those who have come and gone since around 2011.  It was easily the most beautiful tome I had ever held in my hands, containing such beautiful stories of those who have been effected by the magic of the place.  Of course, I left my ink of Love and gratitude as well.

As I readied myself for departure, I passed the hugs around to my new friends.  I got to spend a few moments with Danielle to thank her, and told her how incredibly full my heart was.  We chatted for a little while, swapped a few stories, made a little video testimonial of my time at the swamp, then hugged each other and cried over the magnificent beauty of things…and of ourselves.

Fleming and I drove the journey back to Summerville.  As we pulled into the driveway and I saw the Folk U bus, I couldn’t help but feel like it was all a dream somehow.


It seems that’s part of the power of the retreat, and the magic of the swamp house.  It’s there to be what you need it to be.  No more, no less.  It’s a hotbed of energetic activity, there’s something real there, something measureable in the ground, embedded in the trees, transmitting through the waters like sonar.  It’s a sanctuary for reflection, for nourishment of the soul and senses, a place to disconnect in order to promote Connection.  The sheer gratitude I have in my heart is uncomfortable, there is simply no room in my chest cavity to manage it.  I’m grateful to Danielle, and to all of my new friends who were there on their own Journeys alongside my own.  And I am grateful to the swamp ❤ 20190324_113608


*Click here for a free download of the song I finished writing in the swamp, and click here to watch the video I made.


 

Folk U Productions is a DIY mobile recording studio that seeks to travel the country to help emerging Artists create their first demo and break into their local music scene. In addition to the creation of their first demo, we also provide guidance on: setting up social media presence, local/regional booking, putting together a press kit, creating your own merch table, how to start networking, how to travel/tour on a tight budget, how to start a simple DIY studio, and much much more.

Folk U Productions operates under the strong belief that music and art is essential to our very health and well-being; physically, mentally, spiritually. We also believe that humanity is in a constant state of Evolution, ever waking up, and music strongly assists us in that necessary evolutionary process.  Every Artist has the potential to affect the world with their art, in powerful ways. We need more music, more passionate Artists to get their music out there. Humanity needs musicians to say the things we don’t have words for, we need to give our original Artists the space to be heard and encouragement to share – it is because of these beliefs we hold so dear that we strive for everything this studio provides to Artists to be FREE OF CHARGE.


How can we do this? First of all, we are a 2-person operation – 2 people that have lived very comfortably as wanderers. Our lifestyle is simple: thrift store clothes on our backs, simple foods in our bellies, a super cheap phone bill…our “personal” expenses are very low because of that simple lifestyle. Between the two of us, we’re a musician and a skilled jack-of-all-trades – so we are able to make money on the road that covers our simple lifestyle, without charging for our studio. We also take in donations from folks who believe in what we’re doing and want to contribute to the needs of the studio itself (bus repair, maintenance, studio gear, merch materials, etc).  If we find ourselves in a dire situation and we need to take money in exchange for recording, we use the pay-what-you-want approach; and we would still want to offer all of our other support tools for free.


For someone who is just starting out, those “firsts” are so vital. That first cd, that is so incredibly important…that first merch table…that first round of web presence…that first time on video…that first time in print…that first time an original song was played on the radio…so many firsts that are so magical, and so often essential to light that fire. For someone who is just starting out, acquiring these things can feel very intimidating, especially when money is involved. More often than not, lack of money will stop (or heavily delay) an Artist from recording. When we work with musicians, we want to help alleviate as many roadblocks as we can, and show them there’s nothing in their way if they embrace their Creativity and the DIY spirit.


Simply put: if we’re at an open mic and we see a musician that moves us, someone passionate, someone whose music needs to be heard, someone who gets inside and makes us feel things…and they don’t have a recording?! Nonsense, we gotta fix that! We don’t care if they can’t pay us, we need to make sure that music is getting heard, for the good of all humanity! They gotta have something to at least get the ball rolling! The world needs this music. WE need this music; and if we have the means to help light a fire under an Artist and encourage them to share their art, then it’s our responsibility to do so.

That’s what Folk U Productions does. And I believe in it. Even if it takes another year to get the bus the rest of what it needs – in my eyes it’s so completely worth it.

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Although there wasn’t a big music scene there, I feel fortunate to have gotten my start in Macomb, IL. At the “height” of it in Macomb, I was playing as a duo with my good friend Jill, whom I often credit for musically raising me. We played regularly at the Wednesday night open mics, often drawing a crowd of at least 20 or more. When we played the 3 hour Friday night shows, our crowd would often dominate the bar.

Whether it was a show or an open mic, we were an event. We had a big crowd almost every time we played. There was no “Jill & Dana” facebook page or bandcamp site, no email list, no “promotion” beyond a few occasional flyers. We didn’t even start recording until the last year we were together. And yet, every Wednesday open mic or Friday night show, we had a great big crowd of friends all singing along to damn-near our whole setlist. Not only did we have “draw”, but our Friday night shows always brought in at least $300-$600 from the door.

Sometimes I miss that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely in LOVE with Madison and the music scene here. But even after over 6 years in Madison, the only time my tunes have that kind of a crowd is if it’s an album release or a big event with a lot of awesome people on the bill. In a scene where there is just SO much awesome music happening, I do feel like my music has a crowd and has a home here. But even still, I can’t help but wonder: how the hell did we have such a big crowd of people going to our shows and knowing all the words to the songs, with virtually NO internet presence, NO recordings, and nothing more than a few occasional show posters?!

 

 


I think there were several factors involved. First of all, Macomb is a much smaller town, with limited choices for live music venues. The Cafe is the best, and usually sees a pretty great crowd. Even still, the crowd that came to see us often took over, so how did we get that crowd?

The “crowd” was simply a big collection of our friends, and friends of those friends. We lived together with others in a big party house, and every time it was party time, Jill and I had our guitars out. It was party time several nights a week of course, especially on a night we played the Cafe. We pre-gamed for a few hours, warming up at the house while people gathered. Then we went to the bar, often as a big group, either for a show or for open mic. We played and partied, then we partied some more at the house afterward, jamming until our fingers bled and my voice died. And so it went, for several years. Anytime there was a gathering at our house or another friend’s house, we brought our guitars, ’cause that’s just what you did. And when we played a show, it was just moving the party over to the bar and doing it on stage. Then back to the house until we’re too pooped to play and everyone passes out wherever they land.

So how did we get such a big “draw”? We literally called and texted our friends, told them we were playing, told them to bring their friends and come party with us. That’s pretty much it. By the time we actually started recording, lots of people who came to our shows already know most of the words to my songs because they seen us play so many times. That’s just…that’s beautiful.


 

 


I think as “working” musicians that are trying to get their music “out there”, there can sometime be a disconnect between the Artist and the Listener. I think sometimes when musicians “promote” to their “audience”, it feels as if the “audience” is just this giant floating sea of heads we’re supposed to try and manipulate into coming to our shows or supporting our music. It feels like this as a musician who promotes, as well as a Listener and follower of musicians who promote. Maybe we need to get back to real things, real connections. The “audience”…it’s made up of people, individuals, many of which are likely your friends and family. Maybe instead of “promoting” your show, get in touch with your friends and personally tell them about it, old school style. Try and pretend it’s that magical time before Facebook and social media and alla that jazz.

As a musician, I like using Facebook and other online platforms to share what’s going on with as many people as I can at once. I also like it as a Listener, because I can see what my favorite musicians are up to and what shows are happening. But it’s not always accurate as far as what shows are happening; and as a musician, simply making a facebook event isn’t enough. It feels so impersonal, I feel like my “draw” is better when I personally invite my friends to my shows. Lately I’ve been sitting down and thinking who do I want to see at the show next weekend? If you receive an invite to a show, it’s because I genuinely would love for you to come hang out with me. And I know that as a Listener myself: if you call me or text me or send me a private message about your show, I’m way more likely to go to it. It tells me you want me there, not just a “draw”, ya know?

I want to work on bringing back the real, pretend social media isn’t a thing sometimes, pretend I don’t know shit about shit, don’t know how to work a computer, and just go old school. So you may start hearing from me outside of your Facebook feed. Could be email, private message, phone call, text, postcard, carrier pigeon…who knows, shit might get weird, just go with it, shh.


 

Since late August, I’ve been living in a bus.  It’s a 1993 Ford E350 passenger vehicle.  First it was used as a shuttle bus, then I believe it was used as a mobile party vehicle.

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Now in 2018, it’s in the final developmental stages of becoming a mobile home/studio.  The seats have been ripped out, and home comforts have been added.  After some more mechanics get done, it’ll be road worthy once again, and ready to travel the country.

It’s a work in progress of course.  At this point we have the necessary comforts – my comfy bed and chair, all of my music gear (and a padlocked storage unit to keep it in), a small DIY kitchen area complete with running water, a super cool futon that converts into 2 seeping cots, power converter, heat, food, etc.  Our recording gear is modest at this point, we hope to grow in that area as we go along.  Once we get it “officially” licensed as a motor home, it’ll be ready for the long Journey ahead.

Over the course of the next year or two, the Folk U Productions mobile studio will travel the country, providing DIY recordings for Artists that are just starting out.  Of course, I will be sprinkling my own tunes across the land as well.  My music has found a home in Madison; and while it does feel a little scary to leave the comforts of such a loving community, it’s that same Love from my community that makes me feel supported on this Journey.  This is my home now – even if I travel for months at a time, I will be coming home to Madison ❤


Like any grand DIY endeavor, the bus has had us on quite the adventure.  First and foremost, there is major lifestyle change.  Between my partner and I, our possessions are simplified, completely stripped down to just what we need to be comfortable and productive.  Many people don’t realize how little a person actually needs: food, water, bed, clothes, bathroom supplies, communication device…and…yeah, that’s pretty much it.  Everything else is a luxury – hell, even half that list is a luxury.  Beyond the basic necessities, everything else we have on the bus is for Folk U Productions play and creation: guitars, sound gear, laptop with recording software, interface and mics, a shitload of art supplies for merch making… I’d say over 2/3 of the shit on the bus is for Folk U endeavors.

We also make sure to try and take good care of ourselves in little ways; like getting good sleep, always having fresh coffee in the morning, remembering to stretch our bodies and breathe deeply, have Creative stimulus around, keep the space clean and free-flowing, etc.  There are other small lifestyle adjustments to get used to: keeping up maintenance on our water system, self-contained chem toilet, bus mechanics, making these things part of our regular routine.  Luckily we’ve lived this kind of lifestyle before, and are pretty well-suited for the adjustment.

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I’d say the most challenging part so far has been money, unfortunately.  To get a 25-year-old shuttle bus in good enough condition to travel across the country takes a fair amount of mechanical work, which is far more expensive than anything we’ve done to the inside.  The engine work, front/rear end stuff, tires, alternator, a handful of other stuff I don’t understand because I don’t speak mechanic…the cost for getting it road-ready is almost equal to the cost paid for the bus itself.  And ya know, shit happens along the way: ya thought it was gonna cost this much, turned out to be that much, thought it was gonna be ready this day, but it’s not ready til that day, thought you only needed this thing, but turns out you need that other thing first before you can get this thing…there are tests of one’s perseverance and conviction, for sure.

Thankfully, we’ve come too far to turn back now!   Even though our launch date has been pushed back a few times due to the financial snags, we’re pushing forward as hard as we can.  Today we pick up the bus from the latest run of repairs.  We still need 2 front tires and an alignment, and then if all looks good, it should be road-worthy.  The next goal after that is to get it licensed as a motor home and get it insured.  At that point, we’ll gather our gas money and off we go!


I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m looking forward to taking my music on this Adventure ❤ocean

You know, it’s fun being a performing musician. I’ve gotten to play on big stages with killer sound and lights, looking out at a patchwork quilt of faces looking up at me, feeling the electric pounding pulses from my head to my feet. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, as is being an audience member at a show like that – getting to see my favorite Artists bathed in lights and smoke and electricity, blowing out my ear drums with sheer awesomeness. However…

…there is nothing like the Experience of being able to sit directly across from a spine-tingling musician, actively doing their thing, completely unplugged. No sound gear, no electric frequencies between you. No elevated stage to separate you. No spotlights. No “performance”: just the Artist and the Listener, sitting together around a coffee table, making music and sharing stories. Raw. Organic. Natural. Real.

I like being a Listener in those scenarios, as well as an Artist. As a Listener, I get to Experience some truly amazing music, right in front of me, so raw and full of Here and Now that I could almost taste the sweet sweet melodies. And as an Artist, there’s something about sharing my music in that manner that makes me feel more…Connected…

I feel that both Artists and Listeners can benefit from Experiencing music in this way, and that’s why I wanted to start “Sunday Sofa Sessions“. It’s a monthly gathering of Artists and Listeners, where we take over the cozy couch areas of various local coffee shops and venues to make music, raw and unplugged. The Artists will play songs, share stories, jam on each other’s tunes; and the Listeners kick back and take in some killer good sounds. It’s an opportunity to cultivate real connections with your music, your Artists, your Listeners. I wanna feel all of that gooey good stuff we love about music, unplugged. Unfiltered. Organic. Just raw music you can taste. ❤

Over the course of my 4 1/2 years living in Madison, I have learned this place is stuffed to the brim with truly great music makers.  The creative community here seems, for the most part, much like Madison itself: very grassroots, DIY, locally-sourced, organic-fair-trade kind of vibe, etc.

When I’m hanging out with my music friends, I often talk about how great it would be to be a thousandaire as a musician.  How great would it be if, after all the rent and bills are paid, I had $1000 in my bank – and all I’m doing is making music?!  Shit!  Why the hell are we all shooting for the fame-n-fortune thing, when we could easily be thousandaires?!  And anyway, most of us know that being in the big mainstream fame-n-fortune world means becoming a product and sacrificing a lot of creative control.  So my heart says, “Fuck the fame-n-fortune thing.  I’d rather make my music raw and unfiltered, maintain total creative control of my Art and all things related to it, sustain a simple lifestyle just making my music.”

This is a legitimate, tangible, attainable goal.  A REAL possibility.

For my part as the Artist, it takes focus and determination and love for my craft; it takes a lot of time and energy and resources, a certain degree of self love and care, and a building of an internal support system within myself to carry me through to an “I GOT THIS” mentality.  As a self-supported, self-managed, DIY Artist; it’s up to me to not only be always be on the path of ever-evolving my Art, but it’s also my responsibility to make sure the music as a whole is getting the support that is needed; that the music is hitting the ears of folks that dig it, and hitting the ears well, getting out there as much as it can, finding the flow and the people who are in it.

But what can we do as Listeners of local music to really support our local DIY Artists?  In truth: A FUCKLOAD.

There is SO much we can do to support not only local musicians, but the local scene itself.  If you come across a local Artist that you really love and you want to support them, there are so many simple-yet-powerful things you can do to help provide a support system:

GO TO THEIR SHOWS – Just do it, get some live music in your life, it’s soooo good for you.  Madison is fucking awesome for live music happenings, there’s something here for everyone.  And you’d be surprised at how much you can find for free (even if there is a cover, it’s usually only $5-7 on average).  If there is an Artist you really love that is playing a show, and you are free for the evening and can spare the $5, just GO.  They will be so grateful you did, trust me.  Your attendance is everything, you are the Listener: you walk into the place and you give your $5 monetary support, you get your drink at the bar which supports the venue, you place your body in front of a kick-ass band, giving them your eyes and your face, giving them someone to tell stories to and make noises at and practice on.  And you in turn get exposure to great live music.  Go to shows, it’s just good for everyone.  Bring friends.

BUY THEIR STUFF – I realize this one is tough sometimes, especially if it was challenging enough to pay the cover and buy the drink.  I am both a local music Artist and a local music Listener, and I don’t often have the money I need to support MY music, often leaving me with little to go back into the music community.  However…it’s really not that much.  You definitely don’t have to drop $25 on a t-shirt if you don’t have it; but most local Artist’s cds are around $10, some are $5, stickers are often free (and sticking em on your car shows your love for this band is mobile!), and even just tossing a few bucks in a tip jar for them can make a difference.  If it’s an Artist I truly love and support and I’ve got the few bucks to spare, I’m at least giving money in the tip jar and telling them how much I love and appreciate what they do.  There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to pass by a musician’s merch table because I felt I really couldn’t afford the $10 for their cd that night – but, there have also been several times when I’ve seen an Artist that moved me so much,  I have happily given my LAST $10 to get to take that music home with me (even borrowed the money from friends a few times).

“LIKE” THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA STUFF – Simple as that.  Make sure you not only “like” their facebook page, but share it.  Use the “share” button on the page, don’t just copy the link, because under that “share” button there are options: select the option to share it to your page, AND select the option to “invite friends”.  This is so simple yet powerful, and takes such little time and effort on the part of the local music supporter.  You have reach in and outside of Madison – your connections and reach will strengthen the local crowd for the bands and Artists you love, but you also become a gateway for establishing connections outside of Madison.  By connecting and sharing, you essentially help expose them to a national audience, instantly.

LISTEN TO THEIR CD – Sounds kinda weird, right?  Trust me, there are times I have bought a local band’s album to show them support, and then literally never took it out of the packaging.  I think this happens with a lot of us, for whatever reasons.  But take the time to actually play the album.  If you end up not diggin’ it as much as you thought you would, think about who in your life might really dig it, and then gift it to them.  ALSO, if you’re a local show-goer, you know how rare it is to actually understand the lyrics clearly in a loud bar with a loud band with semi-shitty sound gear.  Listening to the album gives a chance to really take in the stories of the songs, to curl up and Discover on your own time, in your own environment.  It’s an opportunity to really fall in love with the music, not just the band.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people talk about really listening to my lyrics only after they brought the album home, it’s pretty normal in fact.

SPREAD THE WORD – Tell your friends and family about it.  Share their music with others.  Share their shows on your facebook page and encourage people to go, even if you yourself can’t make it that night.  Help the Artists make flyers and pass them around.  Have Listening Parties and let them play shows in your living room.  Do what you can, anything you can think of, to spread the word that there is some great music being made.

 

Many of the musicians I know aren’t seeking to be “discovered” or to become rock stars; they simply want to make their music and share it with others, and hopefully sustain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle while doing so.  Don’t get me wrong, fame-n-fortune-seeking musicians definitely exist here in Madison, but I don’t know too many who are actively trying to “get discovered.”  It seems like less and less people give a shit about trying to attain that impossible mega-star status, because many of us realize that the average mainstream multi-millionaire rock star is a product – made and manufactured and sold to us, the consumers (look for a new piece of writing coming soon, called “Kill The Rock Star”).  Most DIY local/touring musicians I know are too close to our Art, too in love with our music, to ever give up control of it to a major record label or “talent” agency.  Many of us don’t want to become a product to be sold.  Like many other creative grassroots communities, there are a lot of people here making REAL art, REAL poetry.  Our music has REAL things to say, and we want to be able to say it raw, and unfiltered.

In a nutshell: we don’t give a flying fuck about being rock stars.  But we CAN be thousandaires, it IS possible to sustain a perfectly cozy lifestyle by making music.  There is truly great Art being made here.  With love and support and encouragement, we can only flourish ❤

Several years ago I died and came back.  This is my first attempt at a non-verbal word vomit about my Experience:

It happened in a dream. It was one of those crazy intense REAL ones, with thousands of people at dozens of locations, all of it the most absurd of cartoons at the most freakish of circuses – everything bounces back and forth between euphoric and terrifying.

In this dream, throughout all the various locations, I was hallucinating that my friends and loved ones were actually other people – people who were either trying to hurt me, or people I saw hurting or neglecting others. My loved ones literally became different people, sometimes crossed genders and/or race. If I wasn’t hallucinating that they had turned into other people, I was hallucinating that they were doing horrible things. I found my partner in a dilapidated crack den of a room, engaging in an orgy with my relatives, while a small child played with sharp knives on the floor; yet as I’m on the verge of a panic attack over the unattended child, they’re fully clothed and comforting me, telling me there’s no child anywhere, there’s nothing wrong here, that it’s all in my head. At one point I was on a bus, hallucinating that a scary bulky hooded man was attacking me. We struggled and I managed to throw him off the bus. But the instant I did so, the hallucination cleared and I realized I’d just thrown my partner’s sister off the bus.

There were many scenes like these. I felt in a perpetual everlasting state of fear and gripping anxiety, lost in the hallucinations around me, sad and fetal and helpless that this might be my new reality. I remember walking with my partner outside in a parking lot of a health facility, being guided like I could barely even walk. We walked up on a few masked men robbing someone. As we walked up on the scene, one of them turned his shotgun on me and pulled the trigger. The bullet made impact right between my eyes, and everything in Existence slowed down drastically.

Each tiny detail of what is to follow took me years to experience, AND no time at all.

The first thing I remember from the moment the bullet made contact was my head whipping from the force of the impact, and seeing a super slow-mo blur of colors and light from the sunny day outside in the parking lot. I remember a physical sense of being heavily knocked off-balance, and then I remember starting to fall to the ground. There was a realization that I had been shot, but I didn’t feel any pain in my head. Somewhere during the beginning part of the fall (not even half-way to the ground), dazed in the whiplash of colors, everything slowed down even more, to the slowest of slow.

I asked a question without speaking: “Is it time? Am I dying?” I didn’t direct it toward anyone in particular, I just asked, as if to direct it toward everything. I remember using those words, but the feeling and Intention behind it was more like “Is this an opportunity for death?”

A voice that seemed to somehow come from a Presence next to me, within me, and within the Everything, replied: “Yes.” If the Voice had a face to show me, there is no doubt she would’ve said it with a motherly, comforting smile. She was warm, profoundly loving, patient, kind, familiar; like she had been with me throughout every moment of my entire existence.

Immediately I was relieved. I’d been experiencing such pain throughout this damn dream and I was ready to be free of it. With the warm loving support and guidance of the Presence with me, and her confirmation of this Invitation, I welcomed Death with a profound gratitude…


The important thing to say about this welcoming of Death: it wasn’t sad or helpless or anxiety-ridden or fear-based, or anything like that. It wasn’t a dramatic kill-me-now-I-can’t-go-on kind of a thing, nor was I scared or in any physical pain. Yes, I wanted to be relieved of my burdens; but at this point in the dream, I had pretty much accepted the fact that I was basically a drooling, catatonic psych patient, so I wasn’t experiencing any “emotional drama” at that point. Death simply extended an invitation, and I made the choice to go. I was ready to be free of all of my burdens and the welcoming of Death was as simple and innocent as finally getting to set down the ten heavy bags of groceries you just brought in from the car in one trip after a long day of working at a high-volume restaurant. Kinda like “Ahh, yeah, finally, that feels nice!”

Time/space slowed even more drastically.

I have detailed memories of a lot physical sensations between the time I received the Invitation for Death and the precise moment I chose to go. During this “dialogue” with the motherly Presence, I think was “technically” still in the process of falling to the ground after being shot in the head; so I was lost in the infinite motion-blur of colors that was the parking lot and the people around me, and felt a perpetual sense of gravity pulling me to the ground.

Then as Death settled itself over me, there seemed to be a thin reddish/pinkish tint start to settle over my vision, like the red side of 3D glasses or like someone had turned on one of those red colored light bulbs. As the tint settled over, I felt my whole body tense – every single muscle I had, all over my body. My whole body was contracting, every muscle tensing itself hard. I felt no pain at all. Instead I felt my self extending out of my body somehow.

As my muscles tightened and the reddish hue settled over my vision, I felt my insides, my inner being and warmth…my Me…somehow start to extend out, passing through my skin. I was about to shoot outward at any moment in all directions, at inconceivable speeds. Then as I could feel the start of it (the Invitation), the Presence confirmed the Choice; I welcomed it and said “yes.”

At that instant, all that I am was immediately released outward in all multi-dimensional directions, and into a spinning fractal of pure white light. It felt like I was being pulled in every possible direction at super-sonic speeds into this light, via the mother of all magnets. I can still feel the “physical” sensations of it all, it was like being on all the roller coasters and carnival rides I’ve ever been on simultaneously. It all happened so fast, I was out of my body and through the light in an instant.


What I found through the light is something I will never have the “right” words to convey, no matter how many times I recount it or how many people I tell this story to. It is simply impossible, our puny human brains just don’t have the gig capacity (yet). MY brain certainly can’t wrap itself around any of it – in fact, I’m in a perpetual state of utter fascination and awe over what I went through, and my inability to wrap my puny human mind around it is the whole motivation for this big ‘ol word-vomit. But anyway, in an attempt to describe it…

There was Nothing. Simply Nothing. The richest, most bountiful Nothing there is. It was an eternal black void, a vast and endless emptiness…simultaneously just overflowing with ENDLESS possibilities of what could be. It was THE canvas, empty and ready for painting on.

And I was the center hub of it all, the Source of All That Could Be, the Ultimate Creator.

I had within me all of the memories and experiences and stories of every last living and “non-living” thing there ever was or will be, throughout all conceivable and inconceivable time/space dimensions. All of the Stories. I was eternal, limitless, formless, existing as Existence itself in this rich Void. It was as though I contained all of the blueprints necessary to create whole UNIVERSES! This wasn’t just something I knew in my mind – I didn’t have a mind, I had no body. It wasn’t an instinct, or a gut feeling, or anything like that. It was TRUTH. It was the only Truth there was.

I could go on and on about the lifetimes upon lifetimes that I had experienced while in the Void. Everything I felt in the Void was so instantaneous/simultaneous yet so forever, that it’s challenging to “stop” and put my focus on one experience or another (at one point during this experience I begin to “zoom in” on Dana Perry’s Life Story in a little more detail, but I’ll get there later).  I experienced very detailed lifetimes of all that had ever existed or will exist – but in a world where time isn’t a thing, all of these experiences were happening simultaneously, and throughout eternity.

It’s the Void, the Silence Where All Sounds Are Born, the Space Where All Things Are Placed, The Nothing Where All Somethings Begin – and I was the Creator.


And so…

I had basically become thought. The source of thought – the Ultimate Creator, containing all of these blueprints for Existence, able to instantly think anything into reality, simply by becoming the thought. My being – all that I was now– encompassed all the Stories of the Universe, and they all radiated from within me simultaneously, unless I made a Choice to focus or “zoom in” on one Story or another (I had access to the “files” on the full-sensory, first-person experience as “Dan” or “Clara” or “Oak Tree” or “Kitchen Chair”).

And if I was focused on all stories of Existence at once

Encompassing all Stories (becoming all of Existence, everyone and everything there ever was or will be; not focusing on specifically being “Dan” or “Clara” or “Tree” or “Chair”, and instead having all of those experiences at once) seemed to have caused me to essentially “exist” as nothing but two very real and powerful, very distinct thoughts, and the feelings that come with them. All that I was, all that Existence was, was somehow distilled down or compressed into these two sensations: I call them the What-If and the Whoa.

The What-If thought/feeling is the raw craving for pure Discovery.  It’s a curiosity so thick it makes you drool, and tingles the insides. It’s a feeling of I-wonder-what-happens-if that is so intense, the brain is on fire at the need to KNOW. It wants to Learn, to Discover, to intake and throughput data. It’s a child ready to play, wiggling with excitement and anticipation over the possibilities of what her playtime will be, what kind of character she’s going to become and what crazy adventures she’s gonna get into.

The Whoa thought/feeling is just that: fucking WHOA…
It’s the full range of “reactions” to things, all rolled up into one big great reaction. It’s the thought/feeling that happens as a result of satisfying that curiosity. It’s the learning that happens as a result of craving Knowledge. Discovery has happened, the child is in full play, it’s the full scope of reactions after any curiosity has been satisfied, and all possible outcomes rolled up into one. And it seemed to have caused the most intense “WOW!” feeling there ever was…in fact, consider it the source of all wow.

BOTH of these sensations are simultaneous – I was existing as these two thoughts/feelings at the exact same time: the What-If and the Whoa. And through the veiny network of it all…around them…through them…within them…there was a third VERY powerful sensation, the most powerful yet…

It was CHOICE. A Choice, an action, a spark, a decision to Move, to manifest, to Create, to bring into being. It was the life blood that flowed through the veins of the What-If and the Whoa – the Choice, the tool of manifestation, the hands of the Ultimate Creator.

Typically in our world, Creation is a somewhat chronological experience. We start with a wonder, a curiosity, a picture, a craving to know/discover, a Question (a What-If). Then we make a Choice, we make a move; we create, put into an action, attempt to satisfy that craving for Discovery. Then we Observe what has been created/manifested in order to learn, to give ourselves that “eureka!” moment; after being the author of the Story that has been written, it is being read like an excited child. Learning happens and we achieve Discovery. We have our full scope of reactions to the different parts of the Story, our full range of feelings and reactions and drawn conclusions that can happen after Knowledge is gained (the full spectrum of reaction all rolled together is what I call “the Whoa”). Typically, this is the Creative/Discovery process, and in our world it seems to be just that – a process, somewhat chronological.

But in this Void, when I was the Source of All That Is, I existed as all of these at once. I was the What-If, the Creator, and the Whoa. I was the blank canvas, the artist, and the Observer. I was the blank pages of a book that had yet to be written, the author that is actively writing the book on-the-spot, and the reader that is reading the book on-the-spot and being taken on the adventurous journey brought on by the Story. Basically, I was a complete paradox…the most perfect and complete paradox there ever was.  Utter perfection in pure chaos.  I was the Question AND the Answer AND the Space that lingers between/within/through them. I was the flame, the spark that caused it, the oxygen that fed it.

I Existed there for forever, living all Stories simultaneously, writing them and reading them all at the same time, throughout all forms of time and space. I felt every tiny detail of all of it.


At some point though, I chose to “zoom in” on just one Story in particular. I’m not sure what sparked it to be honest, but it was a curiosity about my life – about “Dana Perry’s” life. I was the Original Author and Reader, and I was wanting to read one of my favorite books: The Life Story of Dana Perry. Then I felt the Presence again – the person that was with me when Death first embraced me, the one that told me I was dying and that it was ok to go. I felt the Presence come to me like a very nurturing mother-figure, about to guide me through the Story like a child being read her favorite bedtime story, as if side-by-side on a warm comfy couch.

As we “sat”, the Presence started to show me the Story of my life. What I saw was like watching a movie:

The most beautiful piano music I had ever heard started to play as the scene started with the “camera” focused the top right corner of a room with blue walls and some kind of white criss-cross/diamond/checkered/maybe plaid patterned lines. As the music played and the “camera” started to slowly pan down and out over the rest of the room, I knew I was being shown the Story from the beginning – from conception and childhood – all the way through to my death. But my very child-like wonder came forward once again, and I inhabited a new thought:

“Hmmm…I wonder about the part when I died though, what did that look like?”

IMMEDIATELY, the very moment I became that thought, the Presence and I were “hovering” over the scene of my death. We were back in the parking lot, my lifeless body was on the pavement, lying in a small pond of blood, my curls gooey and matted. People were standing over me, around me, but time was essentially frozen. I observed the scene with my child-like wonder, not saddened or frightened by any of it, just simply looking and inhabiting pure wonder. I felt the Presence there with me, watching me like a mother watching her infant discovering for the first time what fingers and toes do. Pure. Innocent. Warm and Loving. Supportive. Encouraging.

As I observed the scene of my death, there was just something about it that didn’t seem…correct.

It just didn’t seem like that’s how the Story was supposed to end. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t not like it, it just…didn’t seem like it was the right ending to the Life Story of Dana Perry. I was fine with the Story’s ending, but at the same time, felt as though there were other possibilities that might be more…fitting.

Then, the Presence once again presented me with a Choice: I could re-write that ending if I wanted to, but it would require going back and playing the character of Dana Perry in order to do so. Instead of existing in the Void as Existence – as all life stories at once – I would need to “plug in” to the first-person experience of Dana Perry if I wanted to alter any part of her Story. And so, in the very same way that I was presented with an Invitation from Death, I was now presented with an Invitation from Life. The Presence with me made it known that I have a Choice, and so I made the Choice to come back and continue writing The Life Story of Dana Perry.

The moment I made the Choice, I awoke. I shot straight up, gasped for air like I had been drowning or suffocating for hours and could finally breathe again. I felt my heart pumping fast and hard in my chest, felt my blood flowing hot through my veins. I weirdly became aware of other organ systems doing their things – tubes and veins and muscle contractions, internal organs twitching, fiery pulses of electricity in my brain. It felt as though my body had been literally shut down and re-booted. As “reality” came back into focus and I realized I was at home in bed, I immediately broke down in a heavy sob.


For about 2-3 weeks following this experience, I wanted to die. I wasn’t depressed or anything, I just felt so…contained. My body felt like a cage. I felt uncomfortable in it, so much so that I remember the sentence, “Dude, bodies are fuckin’ weird,” almost escaping my lips. And I was also very aware that I was tasked with inhabiting the role of “Dana Perry” once again (plus all the little Stories that come along with that character) and it brought a weight back onto my shoulders… which made me even more uncomfortable in my body.

I let myself cry easily and often. At one point I remember being outside, asking out into the Big Everything “why am I back? What’s the point?! What am I supposed to be doing here?!” Then I felt a warmth settle over me, and a voice came into my head saying “well…you ARE something of a fine musician, are you not?” It felt to me like that very same Presence was there with me, in my head, giving me a little motherly nudge, encouraging me to go play, that everything is taken care of. I felt a great big confirmation that I was put here to keep making more music.

Life is an Adventure. A ride. It’s a Story, unfolding as you live your life. The Story has love and adventure and trials and triumphs and gripping terror and heart-pumping action and heavy loss and joyous gains… You are the Author, the Main Character, and the Reader, experiencing from all points of perspective, simultaneously, reading the book as you’re writing it. You are a Masterpiece. A walking, talking, holographic, interactive Story. And there are countless Stories on this planet – and the Earth herself is a Story, among countless other planets’ Stories throughout space/time. Embrace your humanity, and love it.  Being human can be fun, we can build shit and call for pizza afterwards.

That is our purpose. To just BE. We are here to Create, and to Experience that which has been Created. Live your Story, you’re the only one that can.  The very fate of the Universe depends on it.

This experience was several years ago, and The Life Story of Dana Perry has definitely taken some wicked heavy turns that I certainly didn’t see coming. But I suppose that’s the way every good Story should be.


 

When you physically touch parts of your own body, there is no line between what’s touching and what’s being touched. It is so understood within us that every part of our body is a part of ourselves; we don’t need to be reminded that our hands are extensions of our arms, our feet extensions of our legs, our heads are connected to our necks, etc.

Each time you touch any part of yourself, you are aware of the part that is being touched AND the part of you that is doing the touching. You touch your nose with the tip of your finger and you feel sensation from two points of view: how your nose feels on your finger tip, as well as how your finger tip feels on your nose. Also, no matter what’s being touched or doing the touching, you feel an overall touching of YOU. YOU are being touched, and YOU are doing the touching.  It’s close and comfortable, even more so than a lover’s touch.

So touch yourself. Do it. Clasp your hands together. First, treat it like you’re using the right hand to feel the left hand; let most of your touching-sense intake come from your right hand, let the right hand tell the story of how the left hand feels. Let your right hand feel all the different characteristics of your left hand; the lines, the hairs, the warmth/cold of the left hand’s skin… all of it. Let the right hand be the storyteller, the record-keeper, the Observer of the left hand. Now switch it around and do the same with the opposite hands. Take mental/sensory notes of the different sensations.  Then let both sides tell the Story, feel them together as one, let the line disappear.

Now reach out your dominant hand and touch the things around you. Place your hand on the wall, plant your feet firmly on the ground, pick something up off the table in front of you and turn it around in your hands. Do this like you are touching yourself, with the same warmth and understanding that these things are merely extensions of you, all parts of your physical body.

At first, simply take in the sensations of the thing itself. Use your dominant hand to take in all the characteristics; the hard/softness, the texture, etc. Now allow yourself to extend. Extend the feeling of your physical body to accommodate the thing you are touching. Allow it to be another part of your body, so much so that there is no question. Fill yourself with it.  Do it until the lines of distinction disappear.

Touch a flat hand to a table surface; feel all the characteristics of it, but also see it as an extension of your physical body – feel the size and sturdiness of it, as if you yourself were made of the same materials. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, feel the connection between your feet and the floor.  First feel your feet, then feel your shoes like they’re just part of your feet, then feel them connect to the floor, allow the floor to be just an extension of your feet. Now take in the entire floor throughout the room; let your feet – your body – extend out to the entire room. Place a firm flat hand to the wall, and let the entire structure of the room become your skin.  Go even further, let all the stuff and things in the room become an extension of your body, your many limbs and organs; the tables, the chairs, the dishes, the dust bunnies, the dirty clothes on the floor, the mustard stain on the carpet.  All of it.

Now let your body become the SPACE in the room, let the air and light be an extension of you. Let all the sounds and smells become part of your actual body, as if they are all originating from YOU.  Breathe that Space in deeply, feel the walls of the room expand as your lungs expand.  Exhale fully and let your shoulders relax, feel the room settle back into itself just as you are settling into yourself.

Now go outside, and let yourself extend over everything and everyone you see, for as far as you can see. Touch things. Touch people. Interact with the world around you, as if it’s all just an extension of your body, as if it’s YOU. Not just you on the inside, but you on the outside. You PHYSICALLY. Feel yourself extend over miles and miles, feel all the different parts of you now. Even other people, other bodies; see them as if their body is just another part of your body, another one of your limbs, more of your skin. Especially the SPACE around you; allow it to become a part of you, see the space between things. Let the glorious pockets of Nothing that surround you become living and breathing, and be the one to give it that life and breath, just as you yourself are alive and breathing.

There is no line between you and the world around you, they are One and the same. Nothing is ever truly lost, everything is accessible, doable, tangible. It’s all right there at the edge of your fingertips, because it’s literally at your fingertips. Everything around you is an actual, physical extension of YOU. Do not be afraid to reach out and touch yourself.

One morning during the tunes-n-coffee ritual, I was reflecting on how much Gratitude I have for being a musician.  There truly is no greater Gift.  I felt my heart open as I thought of all of my noise-making brothers and sisters, from right here in Madison to the other side of the planet.  I drifted into fun little daydreams of some massive world-wide event happening that would require all of us to play at once to thwart a major planetary threat.

As I thought about the Truth of what music really is, and the sheer impact it has on us, and what it could be like if we came together as Artists, this piece of writing came out (a song is brewing as result of it, I’m kickin’ some chords and lyrics around the office):

 

Calling all Musicians:
This is not a drill. Your time has come. The world needs you. Humanity needs you. It’s time to stand up and ROCK THE FUCK OUT!

The type of music you make does not matter, nor does it matter how “good” or “bad” you think you are. Stop comparing yourself to other musicians anyway. Stop wondering if you’re better or worse than, more or less deserving of this or that. It doesn’t matter if you’re “professional”, or if your biggest show was at home in your underwear for an audience of posters on your wall – we are all on the same team, with the same mission: to ROCK. THE FUCK. OUT.

Because know this: you are not the “likes” on your fucking facebook page. You are not your album cover. You are not a number of downloads, or the amount of merch you sell at your shows. You’re not what time you play in the lineup, how many people you can “draw”, how much money you have, and you sure as hell are not your fucking “image”. In fact, you aren’t even your music…you are merely a vessel for Music to pass through. You are a POWERFUL FUCKING FORCE.

Music is a language of the Universe – the ONE SONG. Open yourself up and let the music radiate from your very cells, throw yourself into another dimension of colorful Expression – lose yourself. That’s your job: to just ROCK. THE FUCK. OUT.
Play your songs. Make your music. Do it with PURPOSE, with INTENTION, with a FORCE. Don’t stop, no matter what happens around you. FOLLOW your music, listen to what it tells you and obey. Play as often as you can, everywhere you can.

Be open and vulnerable in your emotions while you are playing; in fact, you must strive for this every time. Don’t be afraid, the Listeners around you want this. We need our music to move us through our core, we want it to DO things to us, to help us throughput and express our emotions. All of the best music does this, no matter what “genre” it is, no matter what the Story is. That’s why it doesn’t matter what you play or how “good” you are – let your music MOVE, and it will MOVE. Just ROCK. THE FUCK. OUT.

When we express ourselves – our thoughts, our emotions, our minds, our feelings- we’re helping ourselves to process the story of our lives, and the story of the world around us. If you are a musician (or an Artist of any kind), you have the ability and nurtured skills to EXPRESS, which is necessary to process shit. We ALL have the power to express ourselves in artistic ways, but it is the Artist that has nurtured Divine tools of Expression like music. It is the Artist that can really say it better; sometimes SO much so, that it feels like they’ve captured how YOU feel, as if they were in deep in your soul somehow, ripping out your insides and showing them to you.

Our insides are being shown to us more and more these days.  We’re ever discovering what we are, and what we most certainly are not. There is so much happening right now, we have SO MUCH to process, and too many of us don’t know how.  Sometimes shit just happens that is way too fucking overwhelming and we don’t know what to do with all of the feelings it causes, we don’t know where to direct any of our anger/fear/sadness/etc.  We need to get it out, to allow it to pass through somehow, to channel it.  Some people turn to such shocking means of channeling their emotions – sometimes quite harmful and damaging to themselves and those around them. I truly feel music is the best, most powerful tool we have to channel and process our bullshit – it has REAL power, to bring us into the Here and Now, to face ourselves and give whatever is needed within that Holy Moment.  Music has TRUE potential to save us and unite us all, because it is a gateway to inner Contentment.  And to me, real world peace means a world of Individuals with inner peace…

We need to scream and yell and have a good long cry, and then laugh through all of our tears and snot, and not be afraid to wipe it on the shirt of a stranger, and to offer your shirt for their snot in return. We need this to ACTUALLY happen – in real life, not just on facebook. If you’re angry, you can go ahead and use all the capital letters and angry-face emojis you want, or even little hugs-n-kisses emojis when you’re happy; but NOTHING feels as good as actual yelling, and real hugs-n-kisses. We need to make real life happen again, take control and open ourselves up to one another, be exactly what you are and let others be what they are. We need to love HARD, and maybe if we could process our own individual bullshit a little bit better, we can make it easier to let go and love a little harder.

Let’s DO this, my fellow music makers and Listeners. Let’s flood the whole fucking place with music, let it completely take over, use this Weapon of Mass Expression to de-clog some of our shit-caked pipes. Let’s play hard out there! Sing loud and fierce, all primal and shit – like our very existence depends on it, because it fucking does.  Do it all at once, until it rattles the Earth to her core and shakes off her old dead skin to make way for something more alive.  It’s our time now, we are being Called. It’s time to come together and ROCK. THE FUCK. OUT.